As a mom, I know how easy it is to let kids watch TV. They want it. They beg for it. It keeps them from fighting and brings a lull of peace to even the most chaotic households. But as a mom, I also know how dangerous that hypnotic lull can be. It keeps kids from exercising. It keeps kids from playing. It keeps them from reading. It keeps kids indoors when they should be outside exploring the natural world. And it certainly keeps them from interacting with one another. (And if your kids are prone to fighting, you may think that's a good thing.) But new research has found that television-watching kids may grow up to be antisocial adults. And it all adds up to just one more reason to turn off the tube.
According to new research published in the journal Pediatrics, excessive television watching in childhood and adolescence is associated with increased antisocial behavior in early adulthood. The New Zealand study followed more than 1,000 people from birth until 26 years of age, noting correlations between between television-viewing habits from ages 5 to 15 years of age, and future antisocial behavior.
Researchers found that the young adults who spent the most time watching television as kids and teens were also the most likely have criminal convictions, violent behavior, aggressive personality traits, depression and antisocial behavior patterns when compared to peers who viewed less television. And the link held even when researchers controlled for factors such as IQ, socioeconomic status, prior antisocial behaviors and parental control. Results were the same for both men and women.
According to the latest Nielson statistics, the average American over the age of 2 spends more than 34 hours a week watching television. That's almost five hours per day! For little kids, that adds up to almost half of the time that they are awake each day — glued in front of a TV.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens should be exposed to no more than one or two hours a day of "screen time" from all sources including television, computers, video games, phones and other electronic devices. Sure, it's easy to turn on the tube and let the kids bliss out, but we're not doing them any favors — now or in the future.
Related on MNN: Does sitting too close to the television really hurt my eyes?